Iraq: ten years on

Ten years ago tomorrow the US along with its Coalition partners invaded Iraq to topple the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. The question of whether or not the war was worth the colossal loss of human life continues to divide opinion.

Ten years ago tomorrow the US along with its Coalition partners invaded Iraq to topple the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

After a fairly hasty disposal of the Iraqi army and the taking of Baghdad, President George W Bush famously declared “mission accomplished” aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Since then, however, hundreds of thousands have died in Iraq, and while elections have taken place and Saddam’s Hussein and his crime family have been deposed, for ordinary Iraqis life remains a struggle – a 2011 poll by Zogby found that 42 per cent of Iraqis felt they were worse off in the fledgling democracy than they had been under Saddam.

The question of whether or not the war was worth the colossal loss of human life continues to divide opinion in the US, too.

58 per cent of Republicans say Iraqis are “better off” compared with just a quarter (24 per cent) of Democrats. Almost half (44 per cent) of all Americans either are “not sure” or say things are “the same” as before the invasion.

 

Iraq statistics

Source: Costs of war

For those who backed the war, justification for the invasion may be found in the fact that Iraq is now a – albeit flawed – democracy.

The idea that there was ever a straightforward alternative to overthrowing Saddam Hussein by force was always rather simplistic too, and relied upon the continued presence of a no-fly-zone in the north of the country (also a form of intervention), as well as on crippling sanctions which, according to some estimates, caused the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children.

However, one of the lessons of Iraq, the French writer Pascal Bruckner says in his book The Tyranny of Guilt, is that “People who hope to see local versions of the Parliament in Westminster established in Kabul, Riyadh, Algiers, and Moscow will have to be patient and learn to accept necessity.”

Quite.

The point missed by those who follow Tony Blair around demanding that he be tried for war crimes, however, is that whether one supported the war in Iraq or not one was still wrong. There was no easy answer to the question of how to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and were he seated in Baghdad today the world would still face the question of how to prize him from power before the country degenerated into bankruptcy and massacre.

Would another Syria really be an improvement on today’s Iraq?

What do you think? Ten years on, was the decision to invade Iraq the correct one?

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